Ashoka: The Search for India's Lost Emperor Kindle Ê
Great read This is a worthy and highly readable attempt to redress the appalling neglect still accorded to one of the greatest rulers of world history Asoka was the Indian king who brought the world s attention to the teachings of India s greatest son, Siddhartha Gautama known to the world as the Buddha yet his name and reputation still remain largely ignored in India, and virtually unknown to the West Why so Charles Allen here supplies us with the answer In raising Buddhism then an obscure sect into the state religion of his great Indian empire, Asoka thereby incurred the lasting enmity of the Brahmins, since Buddhism preached against caste and condemned priestly sacrifices Whilst Asoka s reign thus supplied the world with some of its greatest art let alone some of its deepest and most profound religious teachings the priestly caste were not about to renounce their enormous privileges and power, and they have fought Buddhism ever since often bitterly and indeed, almost succeeded in erasing the name of Asoka from history as a result It was only painstaking work by Western scholars and British scholars in particular that slowly succeeded in dispelling the Asokan darkness, and it is much to Allen s credit that he has not only chosen to bring Asoka into the full light of day here, but that he also identifies the culprits who, then and now, have continued to draw a veil over this wonderful king and his astonishing legacy Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that in bringing the teachings of the Buddha to the world Asoka has exerted a wider and profound legacy than Alexander the Great ever did He really is as important as that.That said, I was nevertheless saddened to see Allen using this book to rehearse his continuing vendetta against those who consider the Piprahwa finds to be a hoax pp 326 30 Not only has this problem no place in such a book the Piprahwa finds are not considered Asokan but Allen delivers us several howlers Piprahwa and Gorakhpur are in Uttar Pradesh not North Bihar, and if he spells Oudh as Oude just one time We are also told that though doubts continue to be raised about the authenticity of the Piprahwa site and its inscription , such doubts are confined to the lunatic fringe of Buddhism Yet as Allen himself knows perfectly well, there are at least two professors one a very eminent Indologist indeed, of worldwide academic reputation who have such doubts, and such authorities can scarcely be relegated to any lunatic fringe of Buddhist studies Perhaps he entertains some sort of personal agenda on the Piprahwa relics for reasons which he has yet to publicly divulge If so this is a pity, since it mars an otherwise fine and worthy book. very interesting and well researched But may be a little dry if you are not theat interested in the subject Enjoyable reading History of colonial indology and controversies about the identity of the author of the Rock and Pillar Edicts James Prinsep and his epoch making decipherment of one of their scripts A lot of useful information and extensive bibliography.But Quite a number of unreliable informations Here, shortly, two of them the most striking ones On page 426 a definition Prakrit, meaning ordinary , is the name given to a group of Indo Iranian vernacular languages from which both Pali and Sanskrit emerged Strange linguistics, or, rather, pure fantasy, but the reader will find many mentions of Allen s personal prakrit in the book Another problem, marring the quality of the final chapter the date of Kautilya Chanakya and his political theory Considered by Allen to be extensively used by the Mauryas, and A oka Again a personal and highly disputable view, presented as if supported by the state of the art research in history of Indian literature.Many irritating mistakes in spelling and translations of terms but these can be easily removed in the next edition of the book Three stars, no. Good amazing academic Indias lost emperor Ashoka Maurya has a special place in history In his quest to govern India by moral force alone he turned Buddhism from a minor sect into a world religion, and set up a new yardstick for government But Ashokas bold experiment ended in tragedy and he was forgotten for almost two thousand yearsIn this beautifully written, multi layered journey Charles Allen describes how fragments of the Ashokan story were gradually discovered, pieced together by a variety of British Orientalists antiquarians, archaeologists and epigraphists In doing so, they did much to recover Indias ancient history itself The Lost Emperor tells the story of the man who was arguably the greatest ruler India has ever known An other excellent book by Charles Allen. What I wrote in my review of Coromandel applies equally to Ashoka Despite being almost overwhelmed by the wealth of information contained in this book and knowing that I wouldn t remember even a fraction of what I was reading I thoroughly enjoyed it.Again, Charles Allen ranges far and wide and touches on a large number of topics, and again I feel like immediately re reading the book to fix in my mind who was who, lived where, lived when, discovered what, etc etc In the end we still don t have a lot of certainties about Ashoka, the wheel turning monarch , but it s the piecing together of the puzzle, the breakthroughs by chance and scholarship that is so fascinating and which was achieved to a greater or lesser degree by the efforts and perseverance of dedicated and often brilliant British colonial administrators, orientalists, philologists, indologists, sanskritists, archaeologists, antiquarians, historians, missionaries, etc.They based their findings on a wide range of often conflicting sources the Rock and Pillar Edicts obviously, the Puranas, the legends and teachings of Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism, the Mahabharata, the Legend of King Ashoka from the Divine Stories , the Island Chronicle of Sri Lanka, the Great Dynastic Chronicle, the writings of ancient Greek historians, the travel accounts of two Chinese monks, etc.It s entirely due to Charles Allen s writing skills that my interest never flagged during 460 pages on the reconstruction of the life and times of a relatively obscure monarch who ruled over a united India some 2250 years ago. After watching the Ashoka serial no Television, I was looking for a book which can tell me the true history of Emperor Ashoka Book is an interesting read documenting not only the life and time of King Ashoka but also details the interesting process through which his legacy was discovered by historians Starting with the Latt discovered at Delhi and later on at Allahabad, the story stitches together the details of discovering King Ashoka and the relics that belong to his time.
- 480 pages
- Ashoka: The Search for India's Lost Emperor
- Charles Allen
- 14 August 2017 Charles Allen